Background Reports show that finances are one of the top concerns for patients, their families and carers. On average a person is £570 per month worse off when diagnosed with cancer, with almost half of them not receiving any advice regarding their financial concerns from their healthcare professional.
Aim To establish a dedicated hospice welfare service. The specialist service to include, (but not exclusive to), advocacy and advice on welfare benefits, grants, tax, insurances, pensions, wills, power of attorney, probate, funeral costs, council tax, housing, utility bills, immigration, employment rights, carers rights and nursing home fees.
Method Recruitment of an experienced specialist adviser helped to establish the welfare service. Where other advice services are age, location or illness specific, hospice patients now receive tailored advice and support on a range of welfare/financial issues from hospice referral to bereavement and beyond.
Engagement with the welfare service enables patients to:
· Afford additional costs associated with illness
· Lessens the impact from loss of earnings through unemployment or reduced hours
· Reduce the need to draw on savings
· Plan finances for those left behind
· Positively impacts on wellbeing of patient, families and carers
· Carers able to concentrate on their primary function
· Bereaved able to address financial and legal issues, and ready to move onto counselling.
Conclusion The provision of a hospice welfare service complements the healthcare patients receive and enables healthcare staff to concentrate on the patient’s medical needs. By addressing patient, family and carer financial concerns the welfare service enables patients to concentrate on their health and for families to have quality time with loved ones rather than worry about financial matters. It has the potential to increase the possibility that patients, family and carers will give greater consideration to donating to the hospice rather than other well- known national charities.